For the first time ever in Seychelles history, an Ethiopian Airline charter touched down at the Seychelles International Airport with a full load of 152 Chinese holidaymakers.
The 3-hour -and-50-minute flight from the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa, landed on Sunday, January 22 at 1515 hours. As it was its maiden flight, the plane got its customary water canon salute from the Fire Brigade department at Seychelles International Airport before the landing of its passengers. To further generate the wow effect of this inaugural chartered flight, the Seychelles Tourism Board had brought together around a hundred school children dressed in their uniforms waving Seychelles and Chinese flags and distributing flower garlands and Hongbao (red Chinese envelopes with a one rupee coin) to the first big group of Chinese holidaymakers.
Proceeding to the arrival lounge, the passengers were welcomed by the Seychelles Minister responsible for culture, Mr. Bernard Shamlaye; the Chinese Ambassador to the Seychelles, Mr. Shi Zhongjun; the Chairman of the Seychelles Tourism Board, Mr, Barry Faure; and the Deputy Chief Executive Officer of the Seychelles Tourism Board, Mrs. Elsia Grandcourt. Despite the long-haul flight from Beijing to Addis Ababa and the Seychelles, the Chinese holidaymakers were overwhelmed to be in the Seychelles on the eve of the dragon year. It had taken almost 2 months for China Travel Services (CTS) to put together this flight to the Seychelles. The Deputy President of China Travel Services’ head office, Mrs. Chao Quian, was on board this flight, together with Mr. Jia Yin, the CTS Manager.
Mrs. Chao Quian emphasized the good relationship, which she said, “exists between the China Travel Services, Ethiopian Airlines, and that of the Seychelles Tourism Board.” According to her, this had immensely helped in the process of bringing the 152 passengers to the Seychelles. She also noted that Seychelles, as a destination, had a lot of potential for the Chinese market and added that this ‘‘first batch of passengers is just the start, and there’s more to come.’.
For 2010-2011, China emerged as the best performing potential market for the Seychelles, shooting up with a 97 percent growth. The Deputy Chief Executive Officer of the Seychelles Tourism Board, Mrs. Elsia Grandcourt, said that since last year, ‘‘with President Michel’s visit to China, efforts were underway to tap the Chinese market.” She added that, “other Indian Ocean destinations are already tapping the Chinese market and that Seychelles can also reap benefits from it.”
7 Degrees South is the main Seychelles DMC (Destination Management Company), which will take charge of the stay of the 152 passengers during their one week in the Seychelles. They will be living in 3 of the main hotels and resorts in the Seychelles (the new Kempinski Seychelles Resort, Berjaya Beau Vallon Beach Resort&Casino, and Le Meridien Fishermen’s Cove Hotel). Doris Cooposamy, Product and Company Manager at 7 Degrees South, said that her company is, “proud to bring such a big group of Chinese passengers to the Seychelles to coincide with the Ethiopian Airline’s first chartered flight,’’ adding that it is a market which will eventually grow. Ethiopian Airlines left the Seychelles hours after its landing. It is scheduled to come back on January 27 to take the vacationers back to China.